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USU softball: Aggies earn series win after splitting doubleheader with UTSA

Utah State softball earned its first Western Athletic Conference series win Saturday after splitting a doubleheader with UTSA at Barnes Sports Complex in Kaysville, Utah. The Aggies captured the first game, 1-0, while the Roadrunners held on for a 5-4 win in game two.

This was the second-straight day that play moved from LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Softball Field to Kaysville.

The series win was the first since the Aggies swept Nevada in Reno in April 2011.

With the split, Utah State now stands 8-29 overall and 2-7 in WAC play. UTSA is now 20-16 overall and 5-4 in WAC action. The Aggies have now won three of four games after capturing a 12-4 win against Idaho State on April 3.

In the opener, Utah State won its first 1-0 game since defeating Cal Poly last season. It was also USU’s first shutout of the season. The Aggies struck first in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore infielder Nicole Arata started the inning by reaching on a Roadrunner error. She moved to second after a sacrifice bunt by junior designated player Kassandra Uchida. Freshman catcher Kelsie Webster moved Arata along with a single to left. Junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker drove in the only run of the game with a bunt single.

Senior pitcher Mandy Harmon did the rest. She earned her first complete game shutout of the season, allowing only two hits. She also struck out a season-high tying eight batters, as she improves to 2-18 this season.

In the second game of the day, the Roadrunners struck first with the Aggies making a furious effort late in the game. In the last half of the twin bill, eight different Aggies had hits with sophomore Hailey Froton registering two hits in the game.

UTSA struck early with two runs in the top of the first inning. Victoria Birdwell drove in one run, while Courtney Buchman scored from third after a Birdwell stolen base. Before the Aggies had even come up to the plate, the Roadrunners had a 2-0 lead.

Freshman pitcher Noelle Johnson and UTSA starter Alyssa Vordenbaum both settled in nicely as neither team found the plate again until the seventh inning. Both starters scattered seven hits over 6.1 innings of work.

Neither team scored again until the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh inning, UTSA plated three more runs in the top of the inning. A Darian Blake triple drove in Alexis Ramirez to make the score 3-0. Two more Roadrunner runs scored on a Jolene Graham double to left.

But the Aggies did not go down without a fight in the bottom of the seventh.

Arata once again reached on an error to start the inning. A Johnson double put runners on second and third with no outs. Uchida drove in one run on a groundout for the Aggies first run of the game, cutting the UTSA lead to 5-1. Junior catcher Samantha Miller drove in one run, while fellow junior infielder Allison Lenzora drove in two to pull the Aggies within one run, 5-4, with two outs. Despite having the bases loaded, the Aggies were not able to score the game-tying run as Haylee Staton earned the win for UTSA.

Senior pitcher Shelbi Tyteca was charged with the loss, falling to 3-2 overall this season, while opposing UTSA pitcher Haylee Staton earned her ninth win of the season (9-6).

The Aggies are back in action next week with a very full schedule, starting with a trip to Orem, Utah, to face Utah Valley on Tuesday, April 9 at 4 p.m. Utah State will then turn around and host BYU on Wednesday, April 10 at 4 p.m. USU will conclude the week with a three-game series against WAC newcomer Seattle on April 12-13.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.